George Polychronopoulos

Sept. 6, 1941 - March 20, 2018
George Polychronopoulos, Sept. 6, 1941 - March 20, 2018

George A. Polychronopoulos, the chef-owner of Gordon’s restaurant in Amagansett for 31 years who immigrated from Greece without money or resources, died on March 20 at a hospital in Delray Beach, Fla. He was 76 and had been ill for three years with mastocytosis.

Mr. Polychronopoulos’s name was legion on the East End and, because of the restaurant, even in Manhattan. In 1993, Richard Jay Scholem of The New York Times wrote that “the two temperature-controlled cellars underneath Gordon’s contain one of the largest and most impressive collections of wine on the Island,” more than 5,000 bottles.

He arrived in this country when he was 18 and served in the Army from 1964 to 1966 at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Wash., during which time he became a citizen.

Mr. Polychronopoulos had a 50-year career as maitre d’hotel, wine steward, and restaurant owner on the East End at Spring Close House and Gordon’s, which he bought in 1976. The late Robert Long, a poet and Star editor, wrote in 1999 that he learned all about salad dressings, garnishes, and how to use a knife from Mr. Polychronopoulos. More plaudits than one usually sees were posted on his online memorial page, testaments not only to his cooking expertise, but praise for his warmth, kindness, and his professionalism. Judith Markowitz called him “a sweet soul who brought so much to our community.” 

He was born in Kalidona, Greece, a mountain village above the Ionian Sea, on Sept. 6, 1941, during the German occupation of Greece in World War II, one of six children of the former Athanasia Petropoulou and Athanasios Polychronopoulos. His brother Vasilios Polychronopoulos, and his sisters Christina and Olga Polychronopoulos, all of Greece, survive. Another brother and a sister died before him.

According to a 1983 “The Star Talks To” column, he grew up in his hometown during the Greek Civil War and left home before finishing high school to try to help his family, who struggled to put enough food on the table. Two of his father’s brothers had emigrated from Greece and his father left in 1954 to join them in the restaurant business in New York City, working at a food shop they owned near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1958 his father went back to Greece and brought his sons, George, Petros, and Vasilios (Billy), to New York.

Mr. Polychronopoulos started as a dishwasher in a cousin’s diner in Jackson Heights. His father then helped him get a job as a busboy at the Stork Club in Manhattan. In the summer, when things slowed down, he came to Montauk, working for Dominick Gagliotti at the Deep Sea Club. Then, for four years before he was drafted, Mr. Polychronopoulos began working at the Stork Club in the winter and at Mr. Gagliotti’s restaurant Spring Close House in the summer. He returned to Spring Close after two years in the Army.

Mr. Polychronopoulos met his future wife, Joanna, on a trip home to Greece. They married in 1981 and had two children, who survive. The marriage lasted 10 years; she survives.

He was the maitre d’ at Spring Close House until meeting Hans Anklam, his future business partner, with whom he bought Gordon’s in 1976. Gordon’s closed in 2008, much to the disappointment of many loyal customers. He moved to Boynton Beach, Fla., in September 2016.

In addition to his three siblings, a son, Athanasios Polychronopoulos of Delray Beach, and a daughter, Fotini Polychronopoulos of Boynton Beach, survive, as do many nieces, nephews, and cousins.  Hans Anklam, who now lives in Wyoming and whom Mr. Polychronopoulos’s daughter described as her father’s “business partner and best friend for 45 years . . . more like family,” survives as well.

Mr. Polychronopoulos frequently volunteered at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons in Southampton, and memorial donations have been suggested for the church, which is at 111 St. Andrew’s Road, Southampton 11968.

A graveside service with military honors was held yesterday at South Florida National Cemetery. A celebration of his life will take place at the Greek Orthodox Church on April 29.